Posts Tagged ‘ Newtown ’

Responding to Stephanie Metz’s Viral Rant About Helicopter Parents

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

I like to think I’m not a helicopter parent. I certainly worry but I try not to hover. And as much as I want Fia and Emmett to stay with me forever and never leave (kidding, but I do have my moments of wanting to bottle this time in my life with them) I consider it my duty to teach them independence from me.

I see friends who coddle their kids incessantly. I had a playdate once where Fia took a toy from a kid. She was 2. The mom kind of freaked. “Fia, give the toy back. You can’t take it from her,” she yelled. But the little girl wasn’t even playing with the toy. Nor did she care. Still, I instantly made sure Fia promptly returned the toy.  I want to teach my kids to share, and no, I don’t believe in the RIE movement of letting your kids work everything out on their own.  But sometimes we hover too much. Or not enough. Hard to say.

Sidenote: here is my favorite RIE moment: a mom brings her kid over and he finds a 4 foot long tree branch and starts waving it around, nearly pummeling Fia. Instead of taking the stick away she says, “I try not to get too involved because I want him to learn the space around him.” Um, okay, what about my child’s brain that almost got fractured? RIE parenting at its finest. Needless to say she never came over again.

So now I ask: who is aware of Stephanie Metz and the blog post she wrote, about helicopter parenting and bullying, that went viral? Who agrees and disagrees with what she is saying? On many points, I agree with her. But on others, I think she needs to realize that with bullying, we do live in a different world than the one she and I grew up in. There were not the Columbines and the Newtowns of the world. I’m guessing since she lives in North Dakota, she is pro-gun. Most people in that part of the country are. So her “world” is probably different from someone who is raising a kid in LA, Chicago or NYC.

Nevertheless, here are some of her points (and click here to read the entire blog):

Many years ago, there was a time where young boys could run around with their toy guns, killing the bad guys.  You could take the toy guns away from the little boys, and they’d find something else around them – a stick, their fingers, etc –  and pretend it was a gun.  Today, those little boys – if caught doing that – are labeled as threats, and immediate action is taken to remove that threat from the group.

I don’t totally buy that. I know plenty of little boys who run around playing pretend gun who don’t get removed from their group or school. But with gun violence at record numbers, shouldn’t gun-playing other than the Lone Ranger and Tonto, be, if not discouraged, at least not encouraged? And I do know that boys typically do display that behavior even if they grow up in an anti-gun house. They just pick it up somewhere, like preschool. I will say that I am not going to encourage Emmet to run around “playing gunfight” and I’m not going to buy him a toy gun. At least not now. Maybe when he’s 7 my perspective will change.

Your child, who you cater to every need, who you shelter from all things “evil.”  How will this child react when he or she grows into adulthood?  ”Debbie” graduates from high school and goes to college.  She writes her first paper and meets with her professor about that paper and the professor tells her that it’s junk and it will get a failing grade.  How will Debbie cope with that if she’s always been made to feel that no one should ever make her feel sad, or criticize anything she does?

I totally agree with her. That’s why I’m against giving rewards for every little accomplishment. Or when they play team sports and “everybody wins.” Kids need to learn how to lose. Just like they need to learn how to be bored (in regards to my technology post this week that frankly scared the crap out of me with the new research related to kids and boredom). And I do think technology has a lot to do with this as well.

Stephanie writes about how kids grow up and find rejection in the workplace and the real world. She writes about how they can’t handle it. I agree. Kids can’t learn coping skills on any level when they  grow up buried in their gadgets. They can’t learn proper socialization either. So for me, this is a combo of helicopter parenting and parenting with your iPad.  She seems on the mark with that too.

My children are all but ignored when they ask for something without using manners.  They understand that when someone addresses or speaks to them, they are to speak back.  When we go out to eat, we don’t take 5 electronic devices to keep them “entertained” for the 15 minutes we have to wait for our food.  If Hendrix is “bored” (and I use that term loosely), then he can put on his jacket and go play outside.

But where I don’t agree with her is in her stance on bullying.

There was a time – not too long ago – when bullying was defined as slamming someone up against a locker and stealing their lunch money.  There was a time when kids got called names and got picked on, and they brushed it off and worked through it (ask me how I know this).  Now, if Sally calls Susie a bitch (please excuse my language if that offends you), Susie’s whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party.  And Sally – phew!  She should be jailed!  She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like – gasp – a teenage girl acts.

Again, factor in the technology. Factor in that peers can totally f–k with you on Facebook, Twitter, etc. This is the first generation where this is happening. And it’s not good. Add that to the peer pressure of a teenage boy and girl and we’ve seen tragic results. I don’t think kids who are bullied become suicidal solely because they had helicopter parents. But once again, when kids aren’t taught to lose, cope or be bored, it’s a lethal combination on many levels.

So go read her post, weigh in and let me know your thoughts. Her post went from 8 readers to over a million, so it’s worth taking a look at.

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pic of helicopter and stroller via Shutterstock

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Tragedy in Connecticut: How To Prevent the Next One

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Last night was rough. One of my two babies were up just about every hour. Emmett kept losing his pacifier. Fia couldn’t find her stuffed doggie. Emmett’s teething. Fia’s scared of her shadow. And so it goes.

This morning, bleary eyed, we both looked at each other and confessed to the same thought:

Thank god we have children who are crying out for us.

We knew those families in Connecticut would do anything to have their babies back…

Those poor mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts and grandparents would do anything to hear their babies crying out in the night. They never will. Sleepless nights will take on a whole new meaning. Darkness has fallen. Evil has been revealed.

Like everyone I am heartbroken. I am trying my best to compartmentalize so I don’t walk in their shoes and take my mind to the darkest of places.

And like many people, I am angry. How could this have happened? Again?? And Again??

Many people are saying, “Now isn’t the time to debate gun control in this country.” But I say: REALLY? THEN WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME? BECAUSE 20 INNOCENT BABIES WERE MURDERED ALONG WITH SEVEN WOMEN–MOTHERS THEMSELVES.

Yes, I’m pissed. I’m infuriated. I want to scream. And I want this country to change. Quickly. Because god forbid this happens to my child. Or yours.

As Nicholas Kristoff said in his Sunday columnWhy can’t we regulate guns as seriously as we do cars? The fundamental reason kids are dying in massacres like this one is not that we have lunatics or criminals — all countries have them — but that we suffer from a political failure to regulate guns.

I have a hard time believing that when the Second Amendment was adopted, our Founding Fathers thought we all have the right to bear Weapons of Mass Destruction. And sorry folks, but if you are allowed to carry around guns and rifles that can spray out enough bullets to kill that many people in a matter of moments, then those are WMDs.

Let me repeat what I am saying here: It is NOT a Constitutional Right To Carry Weapons of Mass Destruction. Do you understand????

The studies back up the facts: More Guns=More Homicides. Look it up. Click on this link. Do I need to make myself more clear?

Those of us who think that the easy access to guns had oh, possibly something to do with this massacre are not saying, “Guns should be illegal.” We know that isn’t going to happen. We are also not claiming that violence won’t happen even with stricter regulations. It still will. And yes, I know a school was firebombed back in 1927, killing 40 some kids. And that the Tokyo subway was bombed with Sarin Nerve gas, killing 13. Your point, is what?? Shit happens? No matter what? Horrible, awful, violent shit? Yes, I know. We all do. But what really infuriates me is that the gun-toting NRA lovers refuse to even engage in a debate about gun control. They refuse to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, if a young kid of 20, who was a lunatic, hadn’t had access to guns, then perhaps this wouldn’t have happened. Shame on them. Shame on everyone who supports them. And pray to your god that you never have to walk in the shoes of those Newtown moms and dads, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts and grandparents.

People on the gun-loving side are saying, “…more money needs to go into mental health.” Yeah, we get that. There are a lot of wack-jobs who need treatment. But really, it’s a lame diversion. Is that really the best you can come up with? And if it is, why not look at both gun laws and mental health? Why can’t you be a lover of the NRA and still recognize that the system is F-CKED?

My favorite quote is, “Guns don’t kill. People do.” Like my brother said to the idiot who posted that on my personal Facebook page:

“@Tara…there’s an enormous world of difference between pulling the trigger on a weapon of mass destruction and the damage you can do with a butter knife — just to use an example less absurd than the trite and infuriating cliche you cite.”

Yes, I will be defriending Tara…whoever that is. I don’t need 513 “friends,” most whom I don’t even know. So goodbye to those who spew out garbage.

Other people talked about how, “We can’t prevent senseless violence. People will find a way to kill no matter what.”

Oh, okay. So let’s just do nothing. In fact, let’s just do away with any and all regulations and move to pure anarchy. Genius idea, folks. That must mean you also think that after 911 we shouldn’t have put restrictions on people carrying knives (not just butter knives either), explosive devices and paper cutters on airplanes, right? And that we shouldn’t have beefed up security at every airport across America and the world? What world, by the way, are you living in?

You’re basically saying that if someone wants to mow down a classroom or blow up a plane, they will find a way. And therefore no restrictions should be put in place? Well then here’s an idea: let’s start selling knives at airports–hell, even guns–for people to carry on with them. Or sell them at convenience stores near schools? (well, you can practically get a gun anywhere already, so sadly, that’s not a stretch). Why not? Isn’t that part of the “right to bear arms?” I guess it doesn’t factor into the gun-loving culture that WMDs weren’t around in 1791. And that maybe times have changed.

If we can’t even have a reasonable discussion on this, then we are doomed. As a nation, as a culture, as a society. Think about it.

In the meantime, I go back to what I am: I am lucky. I am tired. I am lucky to be tired. Because my children are alive. They cry to me in their dreams. I cry back…

Thank god we weren’t part of the screams coming out of that firehouse in Newtown when the parents were told their children were gone. 

…I tiptoe into my babies’ rooms. I pick up Emmett. I find “my spot.” It’s a crevice under his chin. When his head is slightly tilted back, my lips fit perfectly into it. I keep them there and feel how soft his skin is. My nose is in the crook of his neck. I breathe him in. I whisper into his ear how much I love him. And that he is safe. I place him gently back in his crib.

I tiptoe into Fia’s room. I place my hand on her stomach and feel her breath. Her warmth. She is my little oven. I touch her hair. It is damp with sweat. I brush her wet bangs off her forehead. I hold her hand. In her sleep, she clasps back. I whisper to her as well. “Mommy loves you. You are safe.”

And for this night, and this night only, I tiptoe back to my bed, knowing what I say is true.

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